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  • Writer's pictureWakai Muganiwah

The Black Maternity Scandal

‘If white women were dying at these rates they’d do something about it’

It’s no secret that racial bias has infiltrated and manifested itself into maternity, the Channel 4 programme ‘Dispatches’, investigates the Black Maternity Scandal and its devastating effects on Ethnic Minorities. Ethnic minorities die during pregnancy and labour at a disproportionate rate in comparison to their white European counterparts, specifically black women who are 4x more susceptible to maternal death, the programme reveals.

While UK Maternal Care is relatively safe, its noted an independent study suggested between 2016-2018 only 29% of women who died received good care, with a total of 217 women dying from childbirth in the same period. A 2020 Joint human rights committee published a study, which revealed Black women are 5x more likely to die during Maternity yet the NHS ‘have no target to end it’. Which for many black women has invalidated their feelings and experiences. One study from the US revealed that some doctors believed Black people could withstand more pain than White people, partially explaining the culture of medical negligence.

Jade, a mother of 3 daughters, almost died because she had 6 litres of blood in her stomach but doctors waited 12 hours to give her proper care, despite her husband's pleas.

Statistics lack research on near fatal incidents, Near misses. Black African women are 83% more likely and Caribbean women are 80% more likely to suffer a near miss. MBRRACE UK have begun an initiative to record near miss incidents.

The programme capitalises on Medical institutions/education historically being catered towards White men, essentially manifesting itself into different forms of medical negligence and suggest racialisation has resulted in Black women being more susceptible to health complications.

In 2019 the NHS initiative called Continuity Carer made a commitment to help minority women or individuals from deprived backgrounds, an initiative called Continuity Carer. This strategy and the introduction of Doulas has been proven to reduce maternal complications/mortality rates.

A statement was provided by Nadine Dorries, the Minister for Maternity, promised the launching of an ‘oversight group to monitor how health service is tackling maternal inequalities’.

Despite evidence of reduced death rates for black women, scientists reiterate the miniscule decrease is not enough, fuelling demand for the confronting of wider issues regarding racial biases.


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